After a week-long sting operation that involved five counties, authorities in Southern California have announced that they had arrested 141 people with connections to alleged internet child sex abuse. According to the Washington Examiner, the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force led the operation called “Protect the Innocent.” The investigation ran from September 6 to 12, and arrests were made in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.
Capt. Jeff Bratcher stated, “When we first started in 2004, we started LAPD’s ICAC because we received 458 tips that year. In 2019 that number rose to 8,500. In 2020, 2021, both years, were over 24,000. This year so far, we’re over 25,000, so we should end the year with over 36,000 cybertips. And each one of these tips was one more potential child victim.”
Officers examined the compliance of individuals required to register as sex offenders with a history of online crimes based on tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Crimestoppers.com.
According to the press release from the agency, 110 of those arrested are being held on suspicion of owning, disseminating, or producing child sex abuse material. Eighteen of the suspects are detained on suspicion of violating parole or probation, six for sexually abusing a child, two on suspicion of statutory rape, two on suspicion of pimping, and two on charges of disorderly conduct.
The press release also noted, “Multiple residential search warrants were served throughout the five counties, in addition to arrest warrants, which focused on child predators.” Additionally, officers urged parents to watch their children’s online activity closely, explaining, “Parents are used to seeing children with an electronic device in their hands. Most of the time this enriches our children’s lives and helps with their education; however, parents and caregivers have to know that there can be danger awaiting their children on the internet.”